PUUYA STORIES

Veronica Piva, Director

Veronica Piva, Puuya Foundation Director, former Local Councillor and Long-term Lockhart River resident, first came Lockhart River, alongside her husband in 1991 as part of the St James Anglican Church mission program. She quickly fell in love, not only with the beautiful natural landscape but also with the equally beautiful community. Veronica went on to raise her family in Lockhart River, and when her mission work was completed, following the death of her husband, Veronica chose to remain.

“It is my home, so I didn’t want to leave. And I had a new personal mission to help the people of Lockhart River into the future.”

As a highly regarded, long-term resident of Lockhart River, Veronica is renowned for her passion for community-driven activities, for working tirelessly to support residents in need, and for her commitment to all Lockhart residents having a voice in the community.

Veronica has held a range of key roles over the years.

As the Lockhart River Home and Community Care (HACC) Coordinator Veronica cared for the elderly, sick and disadvantaged. She continued to perform this work outside her paid hours as a member of the St James Anglican Church volunteer outreach program. This included building highly respectful relationships with local elders.

In recent years Veronica has taken on even greater leadership roles, incluidng serving three terms as a Councillor in the Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council, where her portfolio covered Health, Law and Order, Justice and Education, reflecting her passionate commitment to accessible healthcare and social justice for the people of Lockhart River.

With her knowledge and experience in high demand, Veronica holds the role of Deputy Chair of the Walpamu Community Justice Group, where she works collaboratively with community members and the police to resolve issues and advance opportunities relating to justice and human rights. She is also a Justice of the Peace Magistrate, and sits on the local Murri Court.

Veronica is particularly passionate about supporting aboriginal women, young women and mothers in remote communities. She is an active and inspirational leader of the Women’s Group and Mother’s Union, which helps women of all ages to understand their rights, to seek out opportunities and to take responsibility for improving their lives and that of their community.

Veronica made a significant contribution to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Task Force on Violence Report (2000) which when tabled in Queensland Parliament in 1999 made 123 recommendations on ways to reduce violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and address the underlying social, spiritual and economic disadvantage identified as factors contributing to the escalation of violence in those communities.

Despite being witness to decades of struggle, Veronica is filled with hope regarding the future that will be achieved for Lockhart River in collaboration with the Puuya Foundation.

“It used to be that people would just come in, visit and go. They would come in for a program, but when it was over, they would leave nothing behind so nothing changed. There was no training of local people. No empowering us to take responsibility and keep things going,” Veronica said.

“The Puuya Foundation is different. We are community-driven.”

“Everything the Puuya Foundation does comes from the hearts, of the directors, of the workers, of the community.”

“We empower people, and I’ve seen the change as women, especially our young women are coming forward to join the Puuya Foundation and to talk about the changes that they want to make in the community.”

Veronica says she passionately believes good parenting and education are keys to making generational change in the community.

“Our new Kuunchi Kakana (Families’ Together) Centre is starting with children from 0-3, helping parents and children learn together from the very beginning. It’s a great start and hopefully in the future we’ll be able to provide education all the way up to the top, until they walk out as graduates.”

Veronica is proud to be a Director of the Puuya Foundation, and of the contribution they are making to the community.

“We have a strategic plan, based on the goals the community identified, and we are making progress by having the community, the council and the Puuya Foundation all working together. We are making a real difference for the future of Lockhart River.”